The Deterioration of Language
(Based on the article Verbicide by David Orr )
The english language has changed drastically over the last few hundred years and it continues to change today. It is obvious that we no longer speak as Shakespeare once did. “Whither goest thou?" is not typically a phrase that would cross the typical english speaker’s mind.
It is clear, that the evolution of language is present, however, new concept has arisen fairly rapidly: the decline of language. There is a growing deterioration in vocabulary; not necessarily in words, but in the ability to think. Over the past 50 years, there has been a deep regression in working vocabulary, meaning, things that one needs to know and to name, in order to survive in an increasingly standardized consumer society.
In the article Verbicide by David Orr, he clearly identifies key issues regarding why language is on a downward spiral. One concept he discussed that I agree with is that the decline in language concentrates in areas that contain large matters such as religion, politics, philosophy, and nature; yet, there is a vocabulary increase in areas that have to do with violence, sex, and consumption. Orr stresses that we, as a society, we are losing the capacity to articulate our intelligence about the things that matter the most. This is because of the national epidemic of incoherence in our public discourse, street talk, movies, television, and music.
Another concept Orr explained was how language reflects the range and depth of our experience; however, the experience of the world is being diminished. Most of society no longer has the experience of skilled physical work. The recreation and software industries have made our intelligence levels shrink, because of how simple and easy technology is making our lives. From spell check to video games, technology is simultaneously ruining the intelligence level of our society.
Lastly, Orr explained how we are no longer held together by the reading of common literature or by listening to great stories. Therefore, we cannot draw out common sets of metaphors and images as generations previously have. Metaphors from old literature no longer resonate with younger generations because they are simply unfamiliar. This is because the thought about what is worth reading has been disconnected. Reading classic books and using a dictionary to look up words that are unidentifiable really helps develop a powerful list of terminology. However, the ability to read serious contexts in a serious way is lessened by overconsumption of television and computers that deeply weaken concentration.
The issues of language in the workplace can affect workers immensely. Because language is becoming more and more informal throughout generations, it can affect how businesses run and operate. As the younger generations become employers, they will subsequently hire employees who also use informal language, leaving the formal use to go extinct, followed by a world of juvenile vernacular and slang words galore.
In the article, Orr says, “We must instill in our students an appreciation for language, literature, and words well-crafted and used to good ends. As teachers we should insist on good writing. We should assign books and readings that are well written" I definitely agree with this statement. Because literature is becoming less and less prevalent in society, the language is deteriorating.
As a college student, I realize that it is typical for students to be required to take one or two english classes, however, at many art schools around the country, english profesors and liberal art’s professors in general, create a simpler curriculum do to the fact that students are not necessarily majoring in these areas. However, instead of simplifying the curriculum, I do believe that they need to create a more rigorous curriculum to instill the intelligence of society that once was.
When I hear slang worlds being used in every sentence, ‘like’ after every three words, and the strange neanderthal grunts in some of today’s music, I am perpetually repulsed. Many students do not know how to form proper sentences, or write a well-written essay. For a student who loves literature and writing, I find that I have a higher appreciation for those who do not diminish their intelligence for the mainstream societal language. If more students learned to admire literature, the words used would implant in their minds and add a whole new level of communication.
The decline of language is falling at greater speeds due to the prevailing amount of technological advances. As a society, we need to instill formal language back into our minds, to insure that our emerging generations retain a higher vocabulary and can attain jobs where effective communication is present.